Stress, tension, pressure are common linguistic terms that describe a routine situation for many of us. Although we have become used to convincing ourselves that this is a passing nuisance, fatigue or temporary disquiet and no more than that, the truth is that the negative influences of stress could accumulate and have an effect on the body. Notwithstanding the prevalence of this term in our daily lives, the question is asked whether we have really dedicated time to understanding what is hiding behind this word and what the ramifications are.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is the body’s way of planning for a challenge, whether psychologically or physically. The body’s responses are based on a survival-evolutionary mechanism which should prepare the individual to cope physically with a threat or immediate danger. Also the dangers of the modern era stimulate the nervous system to act in a similar fashion.
Stress effects the hormonal system by increasing secretion of adrenalin and the cardiac system by increasing the pulse, blood pressure and the heart beat. Furthermore, as a result of stress the body increases the blood flow to the muscle system and it has an effect on metabolism following changes in secretions of various enzymes. If this situation continues for a prolonged period of time, the body enters into a situation of acclimation and we could feel fatigue, be tempted to eat unhealthily in an attempt “to wake up”, to experience anxiety and more. In the long term the situation could become chronic; the body enters into a state of fatigue in which it is earmarked for many failures.
Being in a state of stress for a prolonged period of time could erode the immune system and harm physical and mental abilities.
Emotional stress can be expressed in many and diverse forms, including – problems with digestion, blood pressure problems, muscle pain, back pain, pressure in the chest, sleep disorders, migraines, muscle spasms, harm to the nervous system, harm to the immune system etc. Emotional stress and anxiety feed off each other – emotional stress creates indications of anxiety and coping with life situations while anxiety increases emotional stress.
Physical expression of stress focuses on various areas in the body, in particular in the shoulders or back. When muscles are trapped and taut, blood, oxygen and other nourishing materials find it difficult to reach all the tissues and waste materials tend to accumulate in them. The connective tissues could adhere to each other and this is a situation that reduces the range of movement. Muscles, when they cannot function properly, start to be sensitive and painful. The more the waste materials accumulate, the easier it is for inflammations to develop.
TREATMENT BY MEANS OF MEDICAL MASSAGE
Massage and various treatments by touch have been found to be effective in coping with emotional stress. This is treatment by touch using hands which combines various techniques with the objective of aiding the body in natural processes of rehabilitation of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments etc). Medical massage is a good example of intense and deep treatment which releases the muscles and soft tissues that have contracted due to stress.
Massage moves fluids (lymphatic, blood etc) and accelerates removal of toxins and waste materials that have accumulated in cells. Furthermore, massage helps in separation of tissues that have adhered to each other, focuses on the deep layers of the muscle and fibres that build it and help in increasing the flow of oxygen and blood. As soon as the body returns to its relaxed state all the other functions improve.
Massage has a mechanical effect. Touch and the diverse techniques integrated in the massage cause an increase of the venous flow and the lymphatic flow that is responsible for drainage of toxins.
Furthermore, massage has a chemical effect. Touch has an effect on hormonal secretions and nerve conduction which have an effect on the way we respond to stress. The endorphins are nerve conductors secreted amongst others following touch. They are known as causes of a good sensation and pain alleviation and they have an important role in control of emotional behaviours (such as: anxiety, fear and enjoyment). Furthermore, massage reduces the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin.
Massage has an accumulative effect and therefore a series of treatments is preferable to one single treatment.
In conclusion, our body is a sophisticated machine comprised of numerous mechanisms synchronized with each other. As soon as a certain mechanism fails it has an effect on other mechanisms and the body sends us pain-like signals. Medical massage has been found to be an effective treatment with great effect on all the systems of the body.
Listen to your body and to the messages that it sends, it knows what it needs.
The information presented in this article is general. It does not constitute medical advice or replace consultation with a physician. It should not be regarded as a recommendation or an alternative for medical treatment.
The information presented in the English website is partial. For full info please visit our Hebrew website
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